MADRID, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- It's that time of year again as FC Barcelona and Real Madrid prepare to square up for their first head to head of the season.
Games between the two biggest sides in Spain and possibly the world have gone through several name changes in recent years, from the "game of the year" to "match of the century" and even "match of the millennium".
Finally everyone seems to have settled to call it "El Clasico" and it is a moment Spain and a large proportion of the footballing world draws to a halt.
With both sides destined to drop few points this season (last year Barca dropped just 14 all campaign) it is obvious that the six points at stake in the two league meetings between the duo are likely to have a major impact on the outcome of the title and although this season Atletico Madrid are also right in the mix at the top of the table, most still expect the title to be decided between Barca and Madrid.
The game's importance is shown by the fact that 50 countries and regions will be broadcasting the match live to a potential TV audience of 400 million. This year's kick off time of 18.00 local time has been worked to ensure as big an audience as possible worldwide, with the game going out at 12 noon in Miami, 11am in Bogota, 8pm in Doha and 11pm in Bangkok.
That range of countries shows how a Barca -- Real Madrid game truly crosses frontiers and cultures and virtually every person who sits in front of their TV screen will be rooting for one side or the other.
The rivalry between the two teams is enough to give the match a high-profile, but bearing in mind that the Camp Nou pitch will see perhaps the three most media players the world has ever seen in action and it is easy to see the appeal of the game.
Once again everyone watching will have their own opinion over whether Cristiano Ronaldo or Leo Messi is the best player in the World, as Messi's close control and ability to glide past rivals is pitted against the sheer physical prowess and skill of his Portuguese rival. And this year there is a new pretender to the throne as Brazilian international Neymar makes his debut in the Clasico.
The youngster has adapted much better than expected to life in Europe and has already got the Barca fans in his pocket. Now he has the chance to prove to the entire World that he can be a worthy successor to both Messi and Ronaldo and fans in Brazil will surely be watching his every move.
Meanwhile the game is also a chance for Gareth Bale to show why Real Madrid paid such a huge amount of money for him. The actual transfer fee was between 91 million and 100 million euros and if the latter is correct that would make Bale the most expensive player in the world.
At the moment nobody would argue that he was the best player in the World, but the big games are when the big stars are called on to shine the brightest and if he is to live up to the hype, Bale will never have a bigger stage nor a bigger audience.
In footballing terms, Barca go into the game with a three point lead over Real Madrid and a victory would see them go six clear of their historic rivals. On the face of it that is what the game is all about, but a meeting with so much history is clearly about a lot more, bringing elements of political, regional and cultural identity into the mix.
There is a saying that "Barca is more than a club" and in the same way the Clasico is "more than a simple football match" it is a cultural phenomenon.